Finding the silver lining, when the clouds that surround you are very dark

This week the kids were busy. Very busy. I made multiple trips to the Kids’ Camp that some attended and some volunteered at as well as many appointments and you know, life. We’re as busy as the next person, and not as busy as some but for some reason this week I really felt it. I barely made it to the gym and the days I did were cut short because I needed to get home to get someone somewhere. The kids love Kids’ Camp. Me? Not so much. It’s incredibly loud and incredibly chaotic. I used to take the photos but stopped, I’m glad I did but sometimes I feel a tinge of “miss it” when I walk into it. Until of course, I walk into the screaming auditorium of hell. I remember why I stopped then. Heat, loud and anxiety. It’s better someone else shoots it. And it’s helping me learn to control my inner control freak. Each year it gets easier. Each year I am more grateful for someone else’s hard work. Grateful that there are more people out there who serve where others cannot. Self-care and caring about people. Things that sometimes go hand in hand.

We’re fortunate to have cousins who aren’t blood cousins but cousins indeed. Their mother lets me have them all week and I was glad. And Wednesday, she took them with her for some fun. Except we learned Drew is INCREDIBLY allergic to something at their house. Guinea pigs we think. And this? This is what happened to his face.

Gramma Bamma was quick thinking and gave him some Benadryl and when he had some trouble breathing we took our butts quickly to the emergency room. You’d have sworn it was a full moon, it was so busy but they got him in fairly quickly and treated him even faster. I appreciate nurses so much. Kind and thoughtful and funny.

He fell asleep and I waited. Three hours to make sure he didn’t have another reaction.

I am glad he slept. We got moved from one room because an ambulance came in with what looked and sounded like a drug overdose. I saw the foaming mouth and heard, “what did you take”… one can assume but I really don’t know. Drew was put in the hallway while they mopped the blood up off the floor of the new room and sanitized it for safety. The head nurse yelling at housekeeping all along the way. I felt sick to my stomach. It’s easy to think about people dying there. I am sure many do.  Once settled I sat in the chair next to the room opening and overheard the next room’s conversation about what to do if mama’s heart stopped. I heard the sound of what I can only assume was mama’s husband, voice cracking as he said, “I am not ready to do this. I can’t let her go.”

The hustled continued through the hour. People in and out. The man across the hall waiting for an MRI. A couple, newly pregnant hoping to hear a heartbeat after a gush of blood, leaving with all smiles. And then, the sound of the visibly pregnant mother, all alone, when she let out a primal sound after one can only assume she lost the baby. I don’t know why else anyone would make that sound after a room was totally silent. I have heard that pain before. I have been there.

Just a few hours before, I’d thought, fuck, what next? What fucking next. Monday I’d pulled up to drop Devlynn off at work and saw our “problems” car. Furious, I waited in the parking lot a few minutes before heading inside to sit and watch, as I’d promised Devlynn I’d do. I ordered my coffee and sat at the high tops and waited silently for these people to leave. They sat a long time before stepping out. I think they waited for the moment I turned away for a phone call. These people are awfully brave online; not so much in person. Even when they cowardly smiled for the photo I took to send the police. We’d agreed it was fine to visit, but not okay to stay. I should have known that would be short-lived when the one said they’d stop tweeting and started about 8 seconds later, earlier this spring. Boundaries are clearly an issue for these people. Had they gotten up the moment they saw my child, I’d have extended grace but it was CLEAR, they had no intention of leaving. And I was pissed.

The next day I went to one of their jobs. I stood in line, waiting to order and when I got to the register, I said, “Hey ______, does this make you uncomfortable that I am here? Because this is how you make Devlynn feel. Knock it off.” and walked away. Maybe not my finest moment but I was done at that point. Totally done. And when someone we both know came out to talk to me about it, I trembled and yelled, because their behavior makes me afraid. Even if it’s passive and cowardly. I tried to “face” them online because it’s the only way they seem to communicate. I was ignored, of course. Because it’s easier to be a passive bully, then face a situation.

I’d gotten a screenshot the week earlier. It’s below. And realistically, as an outsider looking in, this would be a harmless and maybe even funny tweet but when it came from someone who when you said to them, “we are afraid and know you have two guns,” says, “actually I have three, you start to feel afraid. And this isn’t the first passive threat. There have been mentions of shooting and burying 17-year-old girls and references to Liam Nielsen and his famous, I will find you and I will kill you, line. So, when they start showing up at your child’s job again, you get nervous and you get nervous fast. I thought, jeez us, this is never-ending and this unstable person will eventually hurt one of us.

 

By Wednesday you see, I was about nuts. So worked up about the next thing that I could barely sleep until I heard that noise. That sound, that poor woman who’d just lost everything. And I realized, now? We’re okay. We are safe. We have police involved, we have a home and food and people who love us. And I am not alone, in an ER, screaming primally for all that I have lost. Instead? I am moving on. Making changes and trying to make sure everyone and everything that is important to me is safe and taken care of. I am not going to stay stuck in the past. Even if sometimes I trip up and post some mean on my Twitter; I am human and I am fucking tired of these games. I want to be around this corner. I have one foot there.  I have forgiven and I am trying to make the best of my fucking Lifetime movie. Damn it, when did I audition for this shit?

Thursday, as we walked, the problem drove by again. Still confused why they feel they need to come down forth, I stood in the middle of the street and waved. This problem called the police and told them I jumped in front of their car. Seriously? Really? But when the cops showed up knowing my first and last name and address, they put two and two together and realized they knew all about it and this person and words like “mentally unstable” and “we’ll handle it”, were tossed around. They mentioned how odd it was my car just been vandalized. And as they nodded in agreement as I pleaded with them for this person to leave us alone, I knew, even after all this, there was still a silver lining to it all. Despite all this pain and well, torture, I was still okay, we were still okay and we will always be okay as long as we continue to work and do the right things. (Occasionally peppered with a middle of the street wave. Funny, I don’t know why that was so different from them waving wildly from their car or in the grocery store. Backfired for them, that’s for sure. )

Silver lining? Patience pays off. Silver lining? Despite a serious dip, I am getting everything I wanted and some. Silver lining? I found me. My voice. Silver lining? I’m learning everything will be ok.

Everything is still okay. It’s going to be okay. I’m so sorry for all the tragedy of the ER but I am thankful for the peace it’s given me. Knowing that despite the very low, it’s okay. It’s going to be okay. We have each other. Despite what anything thinks. We are fine. We just hit a bump, a ugly, nasty, hatefilled bump in our road. We are okay.

I have thought of those people every day since. I’m so sorry these things happen. No one ever deserves to have that kind of scream. Ever.

 

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.

All those times I told you no

Perhaps a more proper title might have been, “why anxiety keeps me at home” but we all know I like to have something that’s a little more catchy. But getting to the point, this is an apology for almost always saying no. My sadness has won. It’s won for years. Anxiety told me, no and so that’s what I said to you.

We moved here a little over 9 years ago. I had these hopes that I’d maybe left the anxiety and sadness back home with the old house and the old life. I was bitterly wrong. And despite a valiant attempt at being a social butterfly, including starting a MOPS group, I quickly lost to the monster that anxiety is. I think it started to creep back in when I got pregnant with Dexter.  I had this embarrassment associated with having a fourth. The stigma of another unplanned, but much wanted, baby. I remember when my friend Emily told me about her little Matthew, it was a relief to be able to finally tell someone, who I knew would be happy, that I too was expecting. I kept Dexter a secret for a while and when I finally did tell I felt each and every time someone looked at me poorly for adding another to my family. It was like a mounting hill of shame and anxiety seeds. A full field, waiting to bloom into something that looked like the shell I was and occasionally still am.

When my MOPS group fell apart, that probably didn’t help either. Because as each friend disappeared from my life, another anxiety seed sprouted. And when the one friend I really wanted, didn’t show up to our pizza date, I began to lose all hope I’d had to ever be apart of the social circle I’d so badly tried to infiltrate. I stopped letting people in. Even the kind Emily who kept me from feeling like I was a lost mother. I just stopped and I stopped saying yes. I made excuses not to go. I stopped returning texts. I never picked up the phone. I said no, to everything and everyone. For years.

I said no to the parties and to the play dates. I’ve made excuses not to show up.  And despite my love for shooting families, I admit, I’ve spent years hoping people would cancel but always glad they didn’t.  When I got pregnant with Dixon, I hid it for a full 20 weeks. Afraid to be excited; my anxiety stole the excitement of that baby bump. I was afraid people wouldn’t want him, they’d be upset he was a boy. That people would think I was crazy for wanting a fifth. I cried when my beloved friends threw me a baby shower. Because my anxiety told me I wasn’t good enough for a party. Thank goodness for my friends who saw my worth. Thank goodness someone loved me enough to celebrate me and my to be born son even knowing how anxious and unworthy I felt.

But even after that,  I still said no. To everything. To meals, I could have used after he was born. To help on the first day of school. To playdates and lunch dates and all those things. And people stopped asking and I felt relief but then I felt lonely and then my anxiety told me I wasn’t worth it all over again. I had regret. I have regret. For all the things I missed. For not calling my brother, for not saying my peace. For not taking my mother’s group, for not fighting for my place. I feel regret for not riding the rides, for not dipping my toes into the ocean. I regret not learning new things, for not taking the photographs, for not learning how to truly sing. For so many things.

But mostly I have regret for the no. I said no for no other reason but anxiety and self-doubt. And I am sorry. I am sorry I told you no. I wanted to go. Deep down, I wanted to go to your party. I just couldn’t. My inner worth told me I wasn’t good enough and I was too worried I might embarrass you or myself.

I won’t say no anymore. Please ask me again. Sure there may be reasons I can’t go but please, invite me again. Help me beat this monster. Remind me. Remind people like me that I can go, that I am wanted and that I have worth.

I won’t say no.

 

 

 

 

 

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.

Why me time is time for them too

I have mostly been a “stay at home mom” for the last 17 years. Mind you, I’ve always done something on the side to bring in extra money. When we were first married I sealed envelopes. For awhile, I made pageant dresses. One Christmas the kids wanted a Wii so bad they could taste it; I spent hours and hours sewing tiny felt food sets to list on Etsy. I have been a photographer for 10 years. Shooting full-time at least a couple of those years. The last five or so, I’ve freelanced from home specializing in social media, WordPress, and graphic design. All while handling our house; paying the bills, being the taxi driver, doing my very best to keep it clean and everyone’s laundry done; homework and school, and well, everything but the bulk of the income. I think it’s been 15 years since I sat down. Literally. I ain’t eating bonbons here people.

But what I wasn’t doing was taking care of myself. I’d spent every moment making sure everyone else in my house was happy but rarely, if ever, did I take moments for myself. I went to baseball, lacrosse, all the school things. I made sure everyone was fed, physically and emotionally. I took care of everyone in my house and much more outside it. Between photography, and Fiverr and the little social life I had, I was stretched thin and by the beginning of 2016, I was tapped out. Totally empty, bucket dry.

My bucket was dry.

2016 was the year of hell. If you’ve read this blog at all, I’ve been pretty candid about it. And while I write about a lot, there are a lot of things I have left out. To protect me, my family, but mostly my kids. March was the last straw. Looking at myself in the mirror was a thing of nightmares and every time I passed my reflection, I looked but I didn’t really know who or what I was looking at anymore. I was lost inside that girl. I explained it to my therapist like this; I was pushed to the middle of this shit show ocean  on a raft and then someone cut the rope and all the people who were supposed to be taking care of me stood at the bank yelling “how can we help you” but because they couldn’t “hear” me, they did nothing or something else that they thought would help but wasn’t really helping. And there I was, a shell, on the raft alone. Everyone meant well. They mean well; but because I couldn’t say, “gosh please do my laundry and get these kids out of my house”, they shut the door and moved along thinking I was okay and I wasn’t. And it felt lonely.

And then, I realized the thing I’d been saying to Devlynn all this time, needed to happen in my life.

You can only change yourself.

YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE YOURSELF.

And so I did. Err, I am. I am changing myself.

For years I’ve avoided a therapist. I get sick of talking. (I know, crazy right from the exhibitionist writer.) But the therapist has helped me to see that what I was thinking was abnormal and weird and bad, is totally normal and human and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. She’s helped me to find “love” in the things that I hate, with a burning fire. She has made it okay for me to not only find my voice but use it. And use it I have. Even when it hurt someone’s feelings. I know now sometimes you have to hurt people’s feelings so they stop hurting yours. I’m TIRED of people hurting my feelings.

And so I go to therapy, every week even when it makes me feel stupid or little.  And I see a psychiatrist now too and she has me on medication. And I don’t like it but I know it’s helping and when I talk with her next, she’ll help me figure out if I don’t like it because it’s not helping the way it should or if I don’t like it because the assholes in my head are telling me weak people take meds and bad people see therapists. And the reality is, she’ll probably want me to take more. But I will say no because I have a voice but you read that already.

But probably one of my biggest changes has been that I am taking care of myself. Depression and anxiety took my ability to shower some days. Yes, SHOWER. It was all my energy to shower, then lotion and blow out my hair. So I didn’t because I needed that energy to take care of everyone else in my life. Honestly, I needed that energy to breath. Because I was having trouble filling my own lungs with air. There were days I forgot to even breath.

I’m showering now. I have to because I smell terrible after I work out. Alone. Without guilt. And I love working out. It started with an hour on the elliptical and then turned into cardio and weights thanks to my brother-in-law the personal trainer. I also meet every few weeks with my friend AND nutritionist who is helping me get past my food stuff. And I have a lot of food stuff. I have learned about eating for me between the therapist and the nutritionist. I enjoy the food instead of shoving it in my mouth and hoping I remember to do it again in a few hours. I am 2.8 pounds from my original goal. And 12.8 from my new goal. I lost 4 inches around my waist. That’s huge to me. And my biceps? Amazing and my triceps and shoulders are coming along. And my core will follow as soon as I master the burpees. The best part is I can look at myself in that mirror again and actually see me. I am in there. I am in that woman with the blue hair and beautiful tattoos and I am in that woman who’s got stretch marks proving she carried 5 kids to term and lost a few along the way. My cheek bones are fucking amazing and I am full of energy. And my friend said she saw it. And I believe her.

I believe her. I am in there. It’s me.

I got my family photos done this last Friday. We’d had them done before and I wasn’t happy with them. Probably because I wasn’t happy with myself and well, let’s be real here, I’m a control freak. But I walked into these photos with no expectations. No posing, sitting. Loving. Holding. And being a family. My friend Kat? Well, she took the most beautiful and amazing photos of my beautiful and amazing family.

And I am in there. It’s me. I’m beautiful in there. Despite the scars that I know people see. I am not ashamed of my sadness or my chemical imbalance. And that’s what it is… fucked up chemicals in my brain. I am worthy of all the love. I always have been. I just waited too long for someone else to tell me. I just needed to tell myself.

I am worthy of all the love.

And so are you.

I got a job today. After a year of applying. It’s perfect. I can take my kids and I can still shoot and craft and I can still go to baseball. It’s fucking amazing. And at the perfect time.

And so I’m lucky. My raft kept me alive… my raft and the voices calling me. Even when I couldn’t tell them what I needed. Hearing it kept me afloat.

I am worthy.

And so are you.

And taking care of me? Will help me take care of them. So they’re lucky too.

 

 

 

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.